Why You Must Attend Networking Events to further your Career
By Dan McCarthy
What can you do at networking events that you can’t already do on social media? You may think that the modern social media landscape renders in-person networking events obsolete. However, that’s far from the case. In fact, it makes physical events all the more important.
If you’re still wondering how traditional networking events can help your career, here are 5 compelling reasons to help you make up your mind.
1. Cut through the competition
Landing a job interview is not easy, much less getting hired. When you respond to a job ad, guess how many others did the same thing? The average job ad receives at least 250 responses. Of those, only five applicants, or 2%, will get called for an interview.
Many companies these days hire through recruiting companies and rely on a third-party intermediate to filter out the candidates. Businesses simply don’t have the time to go through the dozens and possibly hundreds of applications and resumes.
By attending networking events and speaking with employers or recruiters, you’re already taking a major step to distinguish yourself from the other candidates that most employers will never meet in person.
2. Build Your Network
A networking event has the potential to help you land a new career. People tend to think of networking events as a place where it’s all about speaking directly with employers/recruiters and handing out business cards.
This is certainly part of it, but the main emphasis should be on building connections, both with employers/recruiters and other job seekers.
When you have a wide network of connections, one of them might know someone looking for someone with your skillset. That connection might be able to put in a good word for you. In fact, according to a 2017 job trend report, 48% of hires come from a referral from another employee.
You need to start conversations with strangers at networking events. Don’t limit engagement to employers and recruiters. Add these people as connections on LinkedIn and stay in touch. Anyone of these connections may refer you out of the blue.
It's a given that a networking event is about networking. This is a chance for attendees to break out of their social media bubble and actually meet people face-to-face. However, as the event progresses, some guests may lose interest and retreat to their mobile devices.
3. Help Others
Just as your newly acquired connections may refer you to an employer, you should do the same. If your own company is hiring, drop a few names who you think may be a shoe-in for the job vacancy. Helping a fellow job seeker is an altruistic thing to do; plus, it builds good karma if you believe in that sort of thing. It can also boost your own credibility and personal brand within the company if the person you referred performs a good job.
4. Build Your People-Person Skills
Some people are naturally more comfortable speaking and building a rapport with other people. Either way, this is a skill that requires practice and direct experience. Strong people-person engagement helps you in all areas of life, professional and personal.
On the professional front, experienced employers can tell through speech and mannerisms if someone is confident. With this in mind, if this is your first time attending networking events, perhaps it’s more important to attend for the intention of working on your critical interaction skills rather than hoping to land a dream job.
This isn’t to say the latter can never happen because it certainly can. However, the emphasis, in the beginning, should be about building skill and experience.
5. Build Credibility
Attending multiple networking events is one way to build credibility, your personal brand, and professional profile. There is a great possibility that the employers and recruiters you engage with at one event are present at other similar events. If they do not recognize your face, they will surely recall discussions from previous events. This helps to build a strong rapport.
They will come to see you as someone who is serious about landing a new career opportunity. Once you build rapport, your social media profile, job application, and business card will stand out far more than those who only attend a single event or none at all. It’s all about making your face recognizable in a sea of other hopeful job seekers.
For some people, attending networking events means stepping outside their comfort zone. However, this is all the more reason to do so. It is only when you go outside your comfort zone that new opportunities and connections open up.